A Perfectly Fine Addition To The MCU
When it comes to box office cinema, two things are almost a given – sequels or remakes and superhero films. Far From Home is the latest Marvel superhero flick fresh off the assembly line, following on from the emotional rollercoaster of End Game. Abandoning the usual locale of New York, Spider-Man swings straight into Europe, through the usual tirade of tricks and tropes, rekindling the usual Marvel formula for a sure-fire blockbuster hit this Summer.
The story picks up some time after the events of End Game, with the students at Peter’s high school dealing with the effects of the snap and their classmates returning years later. Needing to take a break from the star-studded superhero life, Peter Parker and his classmates find an opportunity arise when they jet off to Europe for a class trip. Grappling with angst around M.J. and the usual high school drama plaguing his life, Peter finds a mentor and father figure in Italian mystery man Mysterio and together with Nick Fury they team up to face a generic villain known as The Elementals. Of course, this proves to be a facade for a much more sinister plot that rears its head in the second half and it’s here where the film really kicks into high gear.
With the Marvel formula in full swing, superhero films have become as cliched and formulaic as they are exciting. Don’t get me wrong – Far From Home is a lot of fun and visually the film ticks all the boxes, especially during its second half when it plays with Mysterio’s visions. For all the great action, big fight sequences and classical music scoring, Far From Home is a reminder of how much of a well-oiled machine these films have become and how little this has really deviated over the years. Whilst I do appreciate the old saying, “If it aint broke, don’t fix it”, there’s also a difference between polished and retelling the same story again in a slightly different way.
I love the Marvel films, and even more so Spider-Man who has arguably his best adventure yet, excluding Into The Spider-Verse. Mysterio is fantastic, and there’s some beautiful moments here including one that sees Peter opening up about Tony Stark and seeing Mysterio as a father figure. While the antagonist motivation has echoes of Syndrome’s story in The Incredibles, the execution is actually pretty good, with the trippy hallucinations and visual trickery worked perfectly into his character.
As the first Marvel film after End Game, I can’t help but feel Spider-Man: Far From Home is an odd title to follow on from. The tone flits back and forth between sombre reflection and cheesy humour, all whilst almost delving into the inner psyche of Peter Parker and how mentally trying his experience with the Avengers has been. There’s one scene with Happy and another with Mysterio that come close to tackling this inner turmoil but frustratingly it never quite gets to that level.
I almost feel like the opening hour should have built that inner anguish and doubt into Peter that our antagonist ultimately feeds on with the hallucinations late on. This would have given the film some real weight and upped the stakes whilst still delivering light sprinklings of humour along the way. Still, that’s just my two cents but in reality, the film is tonally very much a sequel to Homecoming with plenty of laughs and comic relief all the way through.
Any superhero film following on from the success of End Game was going to have a hard time matching up to the prowess of that film. In a way, Dark Phoenix’s delayed release has been a blessing in disguise for Spider-Man, taking the brunt of abuse for a superhero film going through the motions and delivering a formulaic plot. Whilst Far From Home is far better than the final X-Men film, it’s also a reminder of how perfectly orchestrated and creatively restricted these MCU titles have become.
Spider-Man: Far From Home is an easy film to recommend. It’s loud, exciting, funny, romantic and ticks all the boxes you’d expect from a Marvel Universe title. It’s also utterly void of anything that breaks conventional norms. It’s a safe choice at the box office and its quality is good enough to make it stand out over the other Spider-Man films but if you’re looking for something different, Far From Home is far from original.